No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

Glenswilly are ready to live the dream again

Glenswilly celebrate their Championship win in 2011.

Glenswilly celebrate their Championship win in 2011.

THE Glenswilly club has only been in existence for 32 years and is competing in only its eighth senior championship this year.
The club’s progress is well documented, of course, but it is still worth reflecting on the rise of the club to its zenith.
This Sunday’s will be Glenswilly’s third senior final in seven years.
People often say that you have to lose one before you win one and Glenswilly played that out, losing in 2007 before winning Dr Maguire in 2011. Glenswilly came back in 2012 and had a very disappointing year, being relegated from Division 1 after going out of the Championship in the quarter-finals.
They’ve come in this year and have really knuckled down and got to work, showing that they’re determined to make the most of what is a golden chance for this group to jot itself down as one of the great teams.
They geared up for the final with a big win against Termon in a derby League game at the weekend. Glenswilly absolutely blew them away in the first twenty minutes and when you’re a rival manager that is something you’d be watching for.
Certainly, it is a danger for Killybegs that Glenswilly will have a similarly blistering start on Sunday.
Glenswilly are a team that targets a fast start – and with Michael Murphy at the edge of the square, there always remains that possibility.
That is something that Killybegs will have to try to counteract, though that is easier said than done when you have Neil Gallagher, Ciaran Bonner, Gary McFadden, Colin Kelly and these boys around your team.
Glenswilly will enter Sunday’s game as the favourites – and rightly so.
They are solid all around and it is the spin of their team that is their most impressive facet.
From Philip O’Donnell in goal to Murphy at number 14, Glenswilly really have a strong backbone when you consider the likes of Eamon Ward, Gallagher, Bonner and  McFadden. It is rock solid with excellent footballers to boot.
Kelly’s return has been huge for Glenswilly and Bonner, too, has been back close to his best.
Murphy has got plenty of headlines because of his involvement as Irish captain for the International Rules Test. You can take it that Michael will lead Ireland out and play some part in the game – but he’ll be well geared up for the county final on Sunday.
Killybegs, I feel, will struggle to go head-to-head with that – but the key for them might be in doing exactly the opposite.
Killybegs have always been noted for their footballers and in this team Martin ‘Slua’ Boyle has no end of top-class talent. They are all natural, toe-to-hand footballers, though the one thing that may well work against them is the weather. Killybegs would certainly favour a dry day.
Killybegs didn’t turn up for last Sunday’s League game against Gaoth Dobhair. They have lost all fourteen of their previous League games and are long since consigned to dropping to Division 2.
I can see why they didn’t go to Magheragallon and there is a strong argument to be made for leaving the competing clubs free of League fixtures between the Championship semi-finals and the final.
Sunday’s game didn’t impact on Killybegs, but it does have a serious knock-on for those teams who are in or around the relegation play-off spots.
Gaoth Dobhair have now been given a walkover win that has them safe from relegation but it is the fault of the system and the schedule rather than the fault of Killybegs.
As regards their prospects for the game this weekend, the return of Brendan Faherty and Conal Molloy has been massive for their squad would have been threadbare without them.
In Jason Noctor, Killybegs have one of the top defenders in Donegal and I think he shouldn’t be too far away from a county call up.
Matthew Smyth and Christopher Murrin give them serious power and ball-winning ability around the middle and Hugh McFadden has sharpened their edge up top. It’s likely that Eamon Ward will be detailed on McFadden and that will be a very interesting match-up indeed.
Ward is a top-notch defender and McFadden has already shown us what he’s about. Jim McGuinness, I’m sure, will be an interested spectator on Sunday to see how McFadden and Bonner, in particular, are doing.
The loss of Enda Murphy is a big blow for Killybegs. He foolishly got himself sent off in the semi-final against Malin. His suspension deprives Killybegs of a big, strong and physical player who would give them a real bit of an edge a centrefield.
Killybegs have done extremely well thus far in the Championship and I have no doubt that they’ll have a game plan to try and curb Glenswilly’s big players.
That said, the fancy for the weekend is a Glenswilly victory.
OF LATE, the club scene across Ireland has been effected by a number of aspects like the huge emphasis now placed on college football, the arrival and retention of the back-door system.
The club seems to becoming less and less important.
It is a sad development, of course, and it certainly isn’t to take away from either of the two clubs involved in Sunday’s Donegal senior championship final.
But it worries me greatly at the trends and patterns that I am witnessing where our club games, once a sacred patch of the GAA’s fabric, are concerned.
It is not the be-all and end-all of the year anymore as the whole inter-county thing has just rocketed in recent years. It’s something I feel that GAA people should be worried about and actively pursuing to ensure that our club games don’t be degraded any further.
This is where our young lads are introduced and coached, nurtured and developed, where our future Michael Murphys are groomed and, also, where our future administrators are fostered.
I have made this point before, but my view has been enhanced recently, the GAA is fast reminding me of how rugby went when the professional era of the provinces came into being.
So, a player plays for the province and is actually taken away from the club. I have a genuine fear that there will come a day when it will be a real case of it being either club or county and if that day arrives upon our door we are in for a troubled future.
It isn’t an easy one to solve, but it is true to say that the club has got caught somewhere along the line.
SUNDAY’S SFC final is preceded by the senior reserve final replay between Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill.
In the first game, Naomh Conaill looked home and hosed, but led by Michael McKelvey Gaoth Dobhair stormed back and have another chance on Sunday.
It has been interesting to note that one Stephen Cassidy is back training with Gaoth Dobhair and it would’t surprise me to see him sprung at some stage.  He has always been a good man to deliver the goods in a final.
Naomh Conaill may have Seamus Corcoran back too after a long injury lay-off. He’ll be a good addition to Naomh Conaill’s side and this clash has the look of a good curtain raiser.
WITH three players – the captain Michael Murphy, Patrick McBrearty and Neil McGee – set to be involved in the First Test of the International Rules on Saturday night in Cavan, there’ll be plenty of Donegal interest in the games.
You just don’t know what Australia will bring to the party this time around.  There has been the odd high-profile dust up in the past but that end of it seems to be gone. The players who play in these games all love it and it’s a great honour for them all to get a chance to represent Ireland.
THERE will be a real cracker of a game in the Ulster Club Championship on Sunday between Clonoe and Ballinderry.
It’s an interesting tie because Clonoe are managed by a certain Damian Cassidy. Both these teams play a good brand of attacking football and it promises to be a game worth watching.
I think that, if they’ve curbed their celebrations having only won the Tyrone title on Sunday, Clonoe can do the business this weekend.
Do you have a comment to make on any of the above or would you like Declan to raise an issue in this column? Contact Declan by email:

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